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Energy Update, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on voters to defeat Proposition 23, framing the initiative as a choice between big out-of-State oil companies and the environment.  The Proposition would delay the implementation of a 2006 law that will mandate emissions restrictions beginning in 2012.  The Governor asked that voters soundly defeat the measure in order to send a message that a new national energy policy is necessary.  Schwarzenegger urges voters to protect climate lawABC News

KY – Governor Steve Beshear is the second Governor to direct his State to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency over its regulations that limit mountaintop removal.  Governor Beshear called the regulations “arbitrary and unreasonable,” adding that they “threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners.”  The suit was originally filed in US District Court by the Kentucky Coal Association, and was soon joined by the Governor’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.  EPA sued by Kentucky Governor Beshear, coal industryMiami Herald

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has successfully pushed to secure a lease for what could be the first offshore wind farm in the US, to be constructed off the coast of Cape Cod.  US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently signed a 28-year lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates for 130 wind turbines that will operate over  25 square miles of water in Nantucket Sound about 5 miles from the Cape Cod shoreline.  The project will generate up to 468 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200,000 homes.  New Bedford will host a $35 million terminal onshore where the turbines will be built, and which will create about 200 jobs.  The Cape Wind project itself is expected to cost $2.5 billion and create a total of 600 – 1,000 new jobs during the construction and manufacturing phases, with an estimated completion date in late 2012.  The project has been a source of controversy due to concerns about visual and environmental impacts as well as its cost and potential impact on electricity rates.  Salazar signs cape wind lease, first for US watersBloomberg BusinessWeek and Cape Wind backers blew right by costBoston Globe and Mass. city chosen for offshore wind farm siteBloomberg BusinessWeek

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri says that Rhode Island still may be the first State to host an offshore wind farm, despite the recent approval of a lease agreement for Massachusetts’ Cape Wind project.  The Governor said that plans for an offshore wind power site off Block Island at Quonset Point are on schedule for fall 2011 (although no offshore lease with the U.S. Department of Interior has yet been signed).  The Governor also announced that a State ocean management plan has been completed, pushing the project forward.  Carcieri looks beyond Cape WindWJAR

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell convened an energy conference in Virginia with a speech about the future of energy in the State.  The Governor said that uncertainty about offshore drilling is hampering the State’s ability to produce more of its own energy, and called for federal environmental regulations to be loosened.  Governor McDonnell said that he hopes the State “will be an offshore energy leader” despite the regulations, and called for a strategy that relies on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy such as wind power, which he said was in abundance in Virginia, but that "what we've got to do is find a way to harness it in a commercially practicable way."  State’s energy future lies offshore, McDonnell saysVirginian-Pilot

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its fourth annual Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks States on their efforts to increase and sustain energy efficiency pursuits.  While the results are not markedly different from previous Scorecard reports, they do show that States have nearly doubled their total energy efficiency budgets from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion since the initial Scorecard report was released in 2007.  The five States with the highest marks for energy efficiency are relatively the same as last year, including California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Vermont.  The most improved States include Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.  ACEEE 2010 State Energy Efficiency ScorecardACEEE and 2010 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State LeadersEERE News

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the first solar project on public land in Nevada, a decision which will result in a 50-megawatt photovoltaic array 40 miles south of Las Vegas mad possible in part through federal tax credits in ARRA.  The project is the first of a long list of such proposals to gain approval after passing through the Bureau of Land Management’s extensive environmental review process.  Power from the solar panels will be sold in Nevada and should power up to 15,000 homes.  A 350-megawatt expansion of the plant is already proposed, but will require additional review before permits are issued.  Interior Department approves first solar project on Nevada public landsEERE News

According to a new report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “US offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity,” without taking “siting constraints and stakeholder inputs” into account.  The study also showed that the US could obtain as much as 20% of its electricity needs from offshore wind as soon as 2030, creating 43,000 jobs, and that offshore resources would generate more electricity than land-based resources since wind speeds increase with distance from land.  Upon the study’s release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that "clean, renewable energy development that capitalizes on the nation's vast offshore wind and water resources holds great promise for our clean energy future and our economy."  Study: Offshore wind could generate all US electricityUSA Today and Large-scale offshore wind power in the United States: Assessments of opportunities and barriers [pdf]National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Energy Update, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

In the States

ALGovernor Bob Riley has signed off on a plan submitted by TORP Technology to build a closed-loop liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Alabama.  In recent years, Governor Riley has rejected several proposals that would have relied on a less environmentally-friendly open-loop system that would have required the use of seawater from the Gulf to warm up imported LNG.  The company must also pay $25 million for a fund that will protect the marine environment, and will be administered by the State’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  A large local environmental group said that its concerns had been alleviated by the Governor, who praised the proposal, saying “with this agreement, we’re able to protect the environment, improve our economy with 250 new jobs, and provide an important alternative source of natural gas for Alabama.”  Gov. Riley approves “closed loop” LNG facilityWNCF

MI – In a speech to an energy symposium, Governor Jennifer Granholm stressed that the wind energy sector is a key element in the State’s economic future.  The Governor said that the State’s strategy is to use federal funds, tax incentives, renewable energy Renaissance Zones, and a consortium of universities, national labs, and the State to boost both the manufacturing of wind power generators such as turbines and the use of wind power in the State.  So far the strategy has created 5,300 jobs and leveraged as much as $58 million in federal investment.  Wind energy critical for Michigan clean energy economyGovMonitor

NJ – As a consequence of Governor Chris Christie’s prioritization of developing brownfields into solar farms, and strong incentives for renewable energy production, solar businesses that have been searching for large, undeveloped tracts of land in the State are working with the Department of Environmental Protection to procure landfills.  The Department is helping utilities and other companies navigate the federal and State regulatory landscape in order to convert unused properties into revenue- and energy-generating land.  Local governments, facing budgetary problems of their own, are hoping that developers will use the sites in order to generate more revenue as well.  As solar power developers search for sites, NJ tries to cash inNewark Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert gathered a large crowd for the third in a series of public hearings on Utah’s energy future.  Groups representing environmental, conservation, State, and coal interests were given an audience by the Governor, who said that “there has been a healthy difference of opinion on what we should be doing when it comes to energy” and said that all types of energy production will be considered when developing the State’s ten-year energy policy.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd energy hearing brings diverse ideasDeseret News

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will hold the State’s first energy conference in October 2010, and that T. Boone Pickins, a Texas oilman who campaigns for energy independence, will be headlining the event.  Governor McDonnell stressed the need to utilize all forms of energy production, including “traditional, alternative, and renewable sources” such as “wind, coal, solar, nuclear, biomass, oil, and natural gas.”  “By fully developing our domestic energy resources we can provide reliable, low-cost power that will lead our country closer toward energy independence,” the Governor said.  T. Boone Pickins to speak at Virginia’s first energy conferenceWashington Post

National News

In the waning days of the current Congress, Senate Democrats are hopeful that they can pass a renewable electricity standard (RES) bill by the end of the year that would require 15% of electricity in the country to come from renewable sources by 2021.  Several Senate Democrats including Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are strongly in favor of moving forward with the bill.  Although Republican Senator Sam Brownback is a cosponsor of the legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman says he “does not support” the measure, with other Republicans also expressing similar opposition.  Democrats warm to last-ditch energy pushPolitico

Eighty percent of States will be prepared to issue greenhouse gas permits in compliance with US Environmental Protection Agency regulations starting January 2 or shortly thereafter according to a report by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA).  While some States are fully prepared to comply, many others still need to change their laws in order to allow the permitting process to begin.  Still other States will not be incompliance with the regulations, and some of these still actively oppose them.  A rule issued last month would allow the EPA to take over the permitting process for noncompliant States, drawing criticism from some officials in States that do not plan to comply.  Report: 80% of States on track for greenhouse gas permitting, enforcementNew York Times and States moving full speed ahead on greenhouse gas permitting [pdf]National Association of Clean Air Agencies

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